Ferry's In The Jungle

Ferry's In The Jungle
1 Peter 1:22b "Love one another deeply, from the heart."

Monday, October 29, 2018

Train 'Em Up!

Per our pastor's request, for the last 8 weeks Reese and I have worked to set up a children's program at our small church and to equip Kelly (a young church member) to run with the program. With Kelly's remarkable help we have found a way to meet in a dirt-floor wood-shop amongst tools, chickens, cats and dogs. The kids sit on benches and some only come chin high to the table but we make it work and they don't seem to mind one bit. 

Over the weeks we've come to see how very well equipped Kelly is to serve all these little people. Kelly and I meet once a week to plan and to get on the same page. Kelly's keen eye, attention to detail and understanding of the learning styles of the kids has challenged me. After hand-writing 15 bible verse cards she perseveres and draws a detailed picture on each card. Let's just say we don't share the core value of, "good enough is good enough." Kelly would say, "excellence is enough!" We have so much to learn from our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters. What a joy to learn and grow together!

Each week more and more kiddos come with their smiling faces and their inquisitive minds. Together we are learning that the Bible is our map for life, that Jesus is the way and that we can walk and talk with him as we navigate life's joys and challenges. 

Please be praying for these 15+ kids and that they would be protected and come to know True Love. Also, please be praying for Kelly as she faithfully leads this troop as we are away. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Welcome to the table

In our ministry we talk a lot about "inviting everyone to have a seat at the table". Strategically this is done through engaging the "Three Waves" - the foreign church, the national church and the tribal church. The longer we live abroad and "stir the pot" to make an aromatic soup of unity the more convinced we become that this formula is the solution for sustainable, authentic impact. Our prayer is that the fragrance of our love for one another will be beautiful worship and will draw non-believers to the One who makes all this loving, forgiving, and cooperation possible. 

Lately our resolve has grown for a ministry of hospitality and encouragement. We see very clearly that Hospitality = Depth of Relationship = Trust and Mutual Understanding = True Partnership and Empowerment. To truly have the Three Waves at the table we need to first invite all the players to the table to be known, heard and understood. 

Luke 14:12-14 

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Lately we've been actively seeking out people who haven't sat at our table; people who may not often be invited to sit at the table; people who maybe aren't "our type of people." They may not be our type of people but they most certainly are God's type of people. And, guess what? More often than not, we find common ground, we uncover together shared passions, burdens and visions. Ultimately He is glorified and Christ's prayer for unity (John 17) is fulfilled, right there at our dinner table. 

Sitting together at the table is the beginning of the work. Relationship is the ongoing, never-ending work. If we are going to work together effectively, we need to know each other. And may others come to know Him because of the aroma of the rich and fulfilling unity we share. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Producing Perseverance...

Lately James 1:2-4 has been running over and over again in my head. "Consider it joy when you face trials. The testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let it finish its work. When its work is finished you will be mature and complete. You won't be lacking anything."

My inner dialogue actually goes something like this...

"Ahhhh!! The washing machine is broken again! Ahhh!!!" Consider it joy. 

"Ahhh!!!! My neighbor literally just hacked a pig foot off the pig and handed it to me as a gift! Smile, Tina. Smile, and act like you like it." Consider it joy. You are producing perseverance.

"Ahhhh!! It's raining so hard and my tin roof is so loud. Now I'm sitting in my closet trying to hear. My life is hard. I can't hear my friend on Skype and I so need a nice chat." Consider it joy. You are producing perseverance. Let it finish its work.

"Ahhh!! The water has been turned off by the government without notice. I'm greasy and look homeless. It's not pretty. Please just throw me a bone Ecuador." Consider it joy.  You are producing perseverance. Let it finish its work. I am maturing you, Tina. You have everything you need.

Right now I often get stuck on, "Let it finish its work." because the work of trials is challenging, and painful, and picks away at all those false identities I like to cling to fervently. BUT God's promises are true so I cling to the One Who Can and keep producing perseverance and letting it do its work, trusting I won't lack anything.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Limited Good?

One of the challenges we face on a daily basis is the deeply rooted core believe that there isn't enough "good" to go around. The idea of limited good. This idea that if one person gains or gets ahead, their neighbor loses or gets behind. The idea that when one person profits, another loses complicates relationships between family members, friends, churches, neighbors and beyond. Recently we experienced this first hand and it grieved our hearts greatly.

Our friend asked us to drive her to a clay source 2 hours into the jungle. You see, she makes clay pots (called mokawas) to sell and support her family. Being 7 months pregnant she intended to spend the next couple months working and firing the clay to sell pots before her baby was born. These funds would go towards school supplies for her kids, diapers for the baby and other very imminent needs. 

With happy hearts our plan was to drive into the jungle and dig up the clay that was graciously offered by a friend of a friend.  This all changed with this friend of a friend saw our car, our faces and deduced that Emma had enough opportunity in her life and their generosity shifted to jealousy. Their goodwill to deceit. 

Unknowingly we dug up the clay and carried the heavy bags out on our backs. We celebrated while driving home, believing that Emma would get to work and have funds to support her family. This was not to be. Once the clay pots were shaped and then placed over the fire it was revealed that they took us to the "faulty clay source", the source that looked like clay but was not good for making pots and most certainly would shatter when placed over the fire. 3 days of work and the hope we all carried was shattered with the pots when they were placed over the fire. 

We were all devastated. A day spent traveling and days spent fashioning the pots wasted. More painful than this time loss was the deep grief brought on by the behavior driven by this belief in "limited good". 

Our backs still ached from the carrying heavy bags of clay but our hearts ached more. The pain of seeing our friend discouraged and hurt was compounded by our sadness of the cultural reality we face every day. How difficult it must be to live seeing others thrive and thinking you will not. How difficult it must be to labor and believe that you are taking hope and opportunity from another. 

A wise counselor once told us, "When you face the brokenness of your country and its people don't throw up your arms and say it's hopeless. Let it be a reminder of the need for Hope and Love and Healing and Wholeness and STAY. Be light in the darkness." 

So we stay and fight the daily battles with the hope that one day those around us will truly understand that God is GOOD and that he has enough GOODNESS to go around. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Breakfast with the neighbors...


Cultural Assimilation is challenging and an ongoing process. I just observed Georgia eating breakfast at our table, facing out to the street for all to see. Our house is open to the street and we could easily hold a conversation with a passing neighbor from the kitchen table.

This morning a neighbor passed by and Georgia joyously waved at him and continued eating as if it was completely normal to have your breakfast meal be a public affair. Year one in our Ecua-home she refused to leave her room in her PJ's because of the possibility of being "sighted" and now we are in our PJ's, waving and eating with a big smile; messy hair and all.

Living abroad plays out in zig-zags and swirls of assimilation. Much prayer and processing goes into shepherding Georgia and Reese through this process of cultural assimilation and identifying with multiple cultures and environments. This looks like allowing them to "hide" from time to time and then challenging them to step out a little when we see the fortitude and desire which often only exhibits in droplets or glimpses. Stretch, release, comfort, cheer, challenge, repeat. This is our life.

So today I rejoice. I rejoice that the zig-zag, swirly process bore fruit today. Fruit that encourages this momma's heart. Fruit that says, "Yes. They are ok." Fruit that says, "I am the Lord your God. Trust me. I have them in the palm of my hand."

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Grandma and Grandpa Are Here!!!

Lots of fun meals with milk-shakes, appetizers and desserts =
Happy Granddaughters!
Georgia translating for her Papa at church

Jungle walks looking and moneys and plants!
Grandma LOVES the plants!

Grandma teaching Reese to sew

Sharing our favorite road-trip food.
Fresh cocoa fruit. Yum!

A train ride into the Andes Mountains

A little drawing and shared enthusiasm for horses!

Nothin' but love.

More love

Trying pinchos (meat on a stick), Fritada (fried pork) and
Maduros (grilled ripe plantains with cheese)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Engaging in Community and Building Unity

 The last month has been filled with a plethora of community outreach events. Some we participated in and some we facilitated. A primary goal of our ministry is to cooperate with movement while not necessarily being at the center of the movement. Our desire is to be the cheerleaders who say, "Good work! We are will you! Keep trucking! We see progress and promise in your investment!" Raising up local leadership is key to long-term impact. Sometimes this engagement and cooperating with new and existing movement is with foreigners and sometimes it is with nationals.
Women's Lunch Meetings - Lately we've heard many women talk about loneliness and being in their homes working away without a sense of community. Many of the women living in and around Shell have been pulled out of their tribal communities, have married a man from another tribal group and culture and now live in Shell with new cultural norms and systems. Women are longing to be together and Tina is overjoyed to cooperate with this movement of women meeting together. Above you see a women's lunch organized by one of Tina's friends. The idea is that each woman contributes $3 for food and we join together months to eat and chat. So fun!! In response to expressed needs, Tina is also starting a women's bible study in Spanish with another of her friends. 
AMA Group - Association of Missionaries in the Amazon. This is a group we are overjoyed to support. Every quarter we meet to pray together, share challenges and victories and pray. It is our belief that great fruit will come from this group. 

Casa Tao - A dear Ecuadorian woman has been running a care home for young tribal single-moms.  Cooperating with her heart to minister to these ladies and train them up in parenting, cooking, sewing, and other practical life skills is easy! Sometimes we get together and just enjoy each other's company and other times we teach them to cook a fun recipe. Really our presence is about encouraging Anita who is investing so much in this ministry and cheering her on to "Keep On!"